Here’s a fact: The legal-tech industry is a strikingly growing, saturated, and competitive market. Once an industry dominated by a few notable players, the legal-tech sector generates
over 17.32 billion U.S. dollars worldwide and is filled with up-and-coming start-ups
with great potential and unique values. Whilst a wide selection of legal tech keeps the
market competitive, consumers may find that they just have too many legal tech options.
With new investments, technological advancements and a high ease of entry, it is evident
that the legal-tech market has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
Why is it important to learn how to navigate a saturated legal-tech market, and how do you even start? Let’s discuss.
Trends You Can't Miss
Before we even begin discussing the criteria to compare and review legal-tech software, or
talk about the importance of making the right legal-tech choice at all, it’s important that you
are aware of market trends that will expand your options, influence costs, and change
your firm's competitiveness. If you’ve been active in investment spaces,
you are no stranger to De-Fi and crypto, both of which are making their move into legaltech.
Let’s take a look, for example, at growing investments in Intellectual Property: NFT
trading platforms have grown investments into the copyright economy very favourably
which means advancements for more efficient servicing are at an all time-high. Since
it’s no secret that returns for IP focused legal-tech companies are higher than most other
categories of legal-tech, our team believes we’ll be seeing more IP legal tech brought to
market. On a similar note, technology to facilitate fractional ownership of nearly everything from music, to real-estate and high-value art rising is creating opportunities for litigation financing such as for class action
law-suits we would not have seen a decade prior. It’s certainly not going to take as much as a decade, however, to see the revolutionary change of both De-Fi and crypto on legal-tech and legal spaces.
Why You Should Care
Although we have established that legal-tech is a saturated market which continues to grow alongside advancements in complementary industries, this is anything but a bummer for lawyers and clients who can now enjoy a widearray of legal-tech options Nonetheless, it is important to recognize the saturation of the market primarily because with this many players, it’s difficult to recognize who’ll bring home the gold medal. Afterall, many legal-tech upgrades and software can cost small firms upwards of $20,000 annually: how can small law firms make the most cost-effective decision when selecting the legal-tech that will automate and revolutionize their firm or get their firm off the ground?
How To Begin Navigating the Market
Step #1: Most legal-tech for lawyers (not consumers) can be classified into the one of the following categories: legal research, litigation prediction, document automation (court form automation, document automation for a specific practice area, contract analysis, client portals/client intake, case management, and lawyer marketplaces. The uniqueness of many products come from being a mix of different categories, such as a mix of client portal and document automation for a specific practice area. Many legal-tech vendors classify their software transparently on their websites and social media. Therefore, to navigate the legaltech market with ease, you should begin by identifying the category of the legal-tech you seek and whether you require it for all practice areas or only one.
Step #2: Legal-tech in the market primarily compete through their value offerings: specifically, features and tools unique to their software. In order to make a more informed purchasing decision, familiarizing yourself with the features of a software is the single most important step of determining if it is the right
choice for your firm.
Step #3: Data Storage - The location of data storage is a question lawyers always ask to
their tech provider to ensure they comply with regulation. Because the GDPR is more strict
than Canadian data privacy regulation, vendors who are in compliance with UK privacy laws normally fall within regulation in Canada as well. Some legal-tech softwares boasts unique security and third-party risk management assessments to assure you about the security of their cloud data storage and protection against cyber attacks.
Step #4: Frequently, basic integrations such as storage and email make a world of difference to the ease of use and efficiency of a software. Prior to making your purchasing decision, ensure that the software you plan to commit to integrates tools you or your clients may use, such as communication, payment and intake tools.
Step #5: A feature that nearly every large ecommerce enterprise (think Amazon) has fit into their platforms is a comparison tool customers can utilize to seek better options for a product they are interested in. For the last step of your shopping, we encourage you to adopt the same comparison mindset when purchasing legal-tech software products: at this step, you may find a competitor that may serve your needs better than your initial selection. With these five steps, we are confident that your purchasing decision will be informed, well-rounded and cost-effective. However, it’s no easy feat to conduct all five steps and especially not easy to repeat the steps continuously for multiple competitors. A legal tech marketplace makes the job of classifying, summarizing, reviewing, and comparing much easier and faster.
Let’s Walk You Through It
Today, we’ll walk you through an example review of a document automation / client intake tool we are about to publish. A no-code, client-intake and document automation software called Afterpattern.
Afterpattern is a unique Toolkit to build your own client intake forms that are embedded within your law firm’s website, and automate your own documents. You can publish your document on their marketplace and even have their staff do the job for you.
DIY builder: With their tool-kit, lawyers can seamlessly automate their own documents to design forms where their clients input their information, and the system will spit out the completed document. The key difference between this and other document automation softwares is that Afterpattern caters to lawyers automating their own document with their own precedents, and making them available to their clients directly through a client portal, compared to other document automation systems where the lawyer with only use the tool internally and the client will never be aware any software is being used.
Sell your documents to other lawyers: Once you use their tools to automate your own precedents, you can sell these pre-automated precedents within their marketplace to other lawyers to use for themselves instead of them automating their precedent from scratch.
Client Portal with payments: It allows your clients to create an account and login to a client portal where they can see a list of your services or documents you provide with prices. It even allows you to offer legal services on a monthly subscription basis.
At around $40/month, Afterpattern offers a competitive price for its offerings. With little
competition in the market for its unique value proposition, if client intake and document automation are key aspects of your firm’s operations, Afterpattern is an appropriate solution.
Afterpattern boasts integrations such as Microsoft Word add-ins, LawPay and Zapier. Essentially, receiving payments and working collaboratively are features which are extended through these integrations. As a relatively new company, Afterpattern is consistently introducing new integrations to help your apps serve your unique needs.
This is just an example of a software review, there are so many other document automation and other types of tools out there. There are tools for retrieving medical records for personal injury practices, for intaking immigration clients, for in-house corporate teams to review contracts and have them signed by all parties very quickly, as well as marketplaces where lawyers can sign up to meet more clients ready to retain them. For small law firms or solo lawyers, reading reviews of legal-tech that exists is a part of continuing legal education rather than a one time job to complete right before investing in tech.